|Peeled, whole, and cross section|
Banana is the common name for herbaceous plants of the genus Musa and for the fruit they produce. Bananas come in a variety of sizes and colors when ripe, including yellow, purple, and red. In popular culture and commerce, "banana" usually refers to soft, sweet "dessert" bananas. Bananas from a group of cultivars with firmer, starchier fruit are called plantains.
They are native to tropical Southeast Asia, and are likely to have been first domesticated in Papua New Guinea. Today, they are cultivated throughout the tropics. They are grown in at least 107 countries, primarily for their fruit, and to a lesser extent to make fiber and as ornamental plants.
Although fruit of wild species have large, hard seeds, virtually all culinary bananas have only tiny seeds. Bananas are classified either as dessert bananas (meaning they are yellow and fully ripe when eaten) or as green cooking bananas.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||371 kJ (89 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||2.6 g|
|Vitamin A equiv.||3 μg (0%)|
|Thiamine (Vit. B1)||0.031 mg (2%)|
|Riboflavin (Vit. B2)||0.073 mg (5%)|
|Niacin (Vit. B3)||0.665 mg (4%)|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||0.334 mg (7%)|
|Vitamin B6||0.367 mg (28%)|
|Folate (Vit. B9)||20 μg (5%)|
|Vitamin C||8.7 mg (15%)|
|Calcium||5 mg (1%)|
|Iron||0.26 mg (2%)|
|Magnesium||27 mg (7%)|
|Phosphorus||22 mg (3%)|
|Potassium||358 mg (8%)|
|Zinc||0.15 mg (1%)|
|One banana is 100–150 g.
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database
The banana plant is the largest herbaceous flowering plant.. Plants are normally tall and fairly sturdy and are often mistaken for trees, but their main or upright stem is actually a pseudostem that grows 6 to 7.6 metres (20 to 25 ft) tall, growing from a corm. Each pseudostem can produce a single bunch of bananas. After fruiting, the pseudostem dies.
Banana fruit grow in hanging clusters, with up to 20 fruit to a tier (called a hand). The assemblage of hanging clusters is known as a bunch, comprising 3–20 tiers, or commercially as a "banana stem", and can weigh from 30–50 kilograms (66–110 lb). In common usage, bunch applies to part of a tier containing 3-10 adjacent fruits. Individual fruits average 125 grams (0.28 lb), of which approximately 75% is water and 25% dry matter. Each individual fruit (commonly known as a banana or 'finger') has a protective outer layer (a peel or skin) with an edible inner portion. The fruit typically has numerous long, thin strings (called phloem bundles), which run lengthwise between the skin and inner part. The inner part of the common yellow dessert variety splits easily lengthwise into three strips.
Banana hearts are used as a vegetable in Southeast Asia, steamed, in salads, or eaten raw. The female flowers appear further up the stem, and produce the actual fruit without fertilization. The fruit has been described as a "leathery berry". In cultivated varieties, the seeds are diminished nearly to non-existence; their remnants are tiny black specks in the interior of the fruit. The ovary is inferior to the flower; because of stiff stems and the positioning of the ovary and flower, bananas grow pointing up, not hanging down.
The genus Musa is in the family Musaceae. The APG II system, of 2003 (unchanged from 1998), assigns Musaceae to the order Zingiberales in the clade commelinids in the monocotyledonous flowering plants. Some sources assert that the banana's genus, Musa, is named for Antonio Musa, physician to the Emperor Augustus. Others say that Linnaeus, who named the genus in 1750, simply adapted an Arabic word for banana, mauz. The word banana itself comes from the Arabic banan, which means "finger". The genus contains many species; several produce edible fruit, while others are cultivated as ornamentals.
Musa × paradisiaca is also the generic name for the common plantain, a coarser and starchier variant not to be confused with Musa acuminata or the Cavendish variety.
Most production for local sale is of green cooking bananas and plantains, because ripe dessert bananas are easily damaged in transport. Ripe bananas suffer a high rate of damage and loss, even when moving only a short distance.
Bananas are the staple starch of many tropical populations. Depending upon cultivar and ripeness, the flesh can vary in taste from starchy to sweet, and texture from firm to mushy. Both skin and inner part can be eaten raw or cooked. Bananas' flavor is due, amongst other chemicals, to isoamyl acetate which is one of the main constituents of banana oil.
During the ripening process, bananas produce a plant hormone called ethylene, which indirectly affects the flavor. Among other things, ethylene stimulates the formation of amylase, an enzyme that breaks down starch into sugar, influencing the taste of bananas. The greener, less ripe bananas contain higher levels of starch and, consequently, have a "starchier" taste. On the other hand, yellow bananas taste sweeter due to higher sugar concentrations. Furthermore, ethylene signals the production of pectinase, an enzyme which breaks down the pectin between the cells of the banana, causing the banana to soften as it ripens.
Bananas are eaten deep fried, baked in their skin in a split bamboo, or steamed in glutinous rice wrapped in a banana leaf. Bananas can be made into jam. Banana pancakes are popular amongst backpackers and other travelers in South Asia and Southeast Asia. This has elicited the expression Banana Pancake Trail for those places in Asia that cater to this group of travelers. Banana chips are a snack produced from sliced dehydrated or fried banana or plantain, which have a dark brown color and an intense banana taste. Dried bananas are also ground to make banana flour. Extracting juice is difficult, because when a banana is compressed, it simply turns to pulp. Bananas fried with batter is a popular dessert in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. A similar dish is known in the United States as banana fritters.
Plantains are used in various stews and curries or cooked, baked or mashed in much the same way as potatoes.
The flower of the banana plant (also known as banana blossom or banana heart) is used in Southeast Asian, Telugu, Tamil, and Bengali, either raw or steamed with dips or cooked in soups and curries. The flower's flavor resembles that of artichoke's. As with artichokes, both the the fleshy part of the petals and the heart are edible.
Steamed with dishes they impart a subtle sweet flavor. They often serve as a wrapping for grilling food. The leaves contain the juices, protects food from burning and adds a subtle flavor.
The banana plant has long been a source of fiber for high quality textiles. In Japan, banana cultivation for clothing and household use dates back to at least the 13th century. In the Japanese system, leaves and shoots are cut from the plant periodically to ensure softness. Harvested shoots are first boiled in lye to prepare fibers for yarn-making. These banana shoots produce fibers of varying degrees of softness, yielding yarns and textiles with differing qualities for specific uses. For example, the outermost fibers of the shoots are the coarsest, and are suitable for tablecloths, while the softest innermost fibres are desirable for kimono and kamishimo. This traditional Japanese cloth-making process requires many steps, all performed by hand.
In a Nepalese system the trunk is harvested instead, and small pieces are subjected to a softening process, mechanical fiber extraction, bleaching and drying. After that, the fibers are sent to the Kathmandu Valley for use in rugs with a silk-like texture. These banana fiber rugs are woven by traditional Nepalese hand-knotting methods, and are sold RugMark certified.
Banana fiber is used in the production of banana paper. Banana paper is used in two different senses: to refer to a paper made from the bark of the banana plant, mainly used for artistic purposes, or paper made from banana fiber, obtained with an industrialized process from the stem and the non-usable fruits. The paper itself can be either hand-made or in industrial processes.
Bananas are also humorously used as a phallic symbol due to similarities in size and shape. This is typified by the artwork of the debut album of The Velvet Underground, which features a banana on the front cover, yet on the original LP version, the design allowed the listener to 'peel' this banana to find a pink phallus on the inside.
The banana has been used as an argument for creationism. Allegedly, it is carefully designed for human grasp and convenience by God. However, the influence that humans have had on its development rebuts this argument, as early farmers selected bananas among many alternatives to harvest, and thus were biased toward a fruit that is acceptable to humans, thus resulting in today's domesticated bananas.
Most farms supply local consumption. Cooking bananas represent a major food source and a major income source for smallhold farmers. In East African highlands bananas are of greatest importance as a staple food crop. In countries such as Uganda, Burundi, and Rwanda per capita consumption has been estimated at 45 kilograms (99 lb) per year, the highest in the world. Ugandans use a single word, matooke, to describe both bananas and food.
The depiction of a person slipping on a banana peel has been a staple of physical comedy for generations. An 1898 comedy recording features a popular character of the time, "Cal Stewart", claiming to describe his own such incident, saying:
Now I don't think much of the man that throws a banana peelin' on the sidewalk, and I don't think much of the banana peel that throws a man on the sidewalk neither ... my foot hit the bananer peelin' and I went up in the air, and I come down ker-plunk, jist as I was pickin' myself up a little boy come runnin' across the street ... he says, "Oh mister, won't you please do that agin? My little brother didn't see you do it."
Banana sap is extremely sticky and can be used as a practical adhesive. Sap can be obtained from the pseudostem, from the peelings, or from the flesh.
Southeast Asian farmers first domesticated bananas. Recent archaeological and palaeoenvironmental evidence at Kuk Swamp in the Western Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea suggests that banana cultivation there goes back to at least 5000 BCE, and possibly to 8000 BCE. It is likely that other species were later and independently domesticated elsewhere in southeast Asia. Southeast Asia is the region of primary diversity of the banana. Areas of secondary diversity are found in Africa, indicating a long history of banana cultivation in the region.
Phytolith discoveries in Cameroon dating to the first millennium BCE triggered an as yet unresolved debate about the date of first cultivation in Africa. There is linguistic evidence that bananas were known in Madagascar around that time. The earliest prior evidence indicates that cultivation dates to no earlier than late 6th century AD. In this view, bananas were introduced to the east coast of Africa by Muslim Arabs.
The banana may have been present in isolated locations of the Middle East on the eve of Islam. There is some textual evidence that the prophet Muhammad was familiar with bananas. The spread of Islam was followed by far-reaching diffusion. There are numerous references to it in Islamic texts (such as poems and hadiths) beginning in the ninth century. By the tenth century the banana appears in texts from Palestine and Egypt. From there it diffused into north Africa and Muslim Iberia. During the medieval ages, bananas from Granada were considered among the best in the Arab world. In 650, Islamic conquerors brought the banana to Palestine.
Bananas were introduced to the Americas by Portuguese sailors who brought the fruits from West Africa in the 1500s. The word banana is of West African origin, from the Wolof language, and passed into English via Spanish or Portuguese.
In the 15th and 16th century, Portuguese colonists started banana plantations in the Atlantic Islands, Brazil, and western Africa. As late as the Victorian Era, bananas were not widely known in Europe, although they were available. Jules Verne introduces bananas to his readers with detailed descriptions in Around the World in Eighty Days (1872).
In the early 20th century, bananas formed the basis of large commercial empires, exemplified by the United Fruit Company, which created immense plantations especially in Central and South America. These were usually commercially exploitative, and the term "Banana republic" was coined for states like Honduras and Guatemala, representing the fact that these companies and their political backers created and abetted "servile dictatorships" whose primary motivation was to protect the companies.
While the original bananas contained large seeds, triploid cultivars with tiny seeds are preferred for human raw fruit consumption. These are propagated asexually from offshoots. The plant is allowed to produce 2 shoots at a time; a larger one for immediate fruiting and a smaller "sucker" or "follower" to produce fruit in 6–8 months. The life of a banana plantation is 25 years or longer, during which time the individual stools or planting sites may move slightly from their original positions as lateral rhizome formation dictates.
Cultivated bananas are parthenocarpic, which makes them sterile and unable to produce viable seeds. Lacking seeds, propagation typically involves removing and transplanting part of the underground stem (called a corm). Usually this is done by carefully removing a sucker (a vertical shoot that develops from the base of the banana pseudostem) with some roots intact. However, small sympodial corms, representing not yet elongated suckers, are easier to transplant and can be left out of the ground for up to 2 weeks; they require minimal care and can be shipped in bulk.
It is not necessary to include the corm or root structure to propagate bananas; severed suckers without root material can be propagated in damp sand, although this takes somewhat longer.
In some countries, commercial propagation occurs by means of tissue culture. This method is preferred since it ensures disease-free planting material. When using vegetative parts such as suckers for propagation, there is a risk of transmitting diseases (especially the devastating Panama disease).
As a non-seasonal crop, bananas are available fresh year-round.
In global commerce, by far the most important cultivar is 'Cavendish', which accounts for the majority of banana exports. The Cavendish gained popularity in the 1950s after the previous mass-produced cultivar, Gros Michel, became commercially unviable due to Panama disease, a fungus which attacks the roots of the banana plant.
Ease of transport and shelf life rather than superior taste make the Cavendish the main export banana. Major commercial cultivars rarely have superior flavor.
A 2008 study reported that ripe bananas fluoresce when exposed to ultraviolet light. This property is attributed to the degradation of chlorophyll leading to the accumulation of a fluorescent product in the skin of the fruit. The chlorophyll breakdown product is stabilized by a propionate ester group. Banana-tree leaves also fluoresce in the same way. Green bananas do not fluoresce. The study suggested that this allows animals which can see light in the ultraviolet spectrum (tetrachromats and pentachromats) to more easily detect ripened bananas.
Even though it is no longer viable for large scale cultivation, Gros Michel is not extinct and is still grown in areas where Panama disease is not found. Likewise, Cavendish is in no danger of extinction, but it may leave supermarket shelves if disease makes it impossible to supply the global market. It is unclear if any existing cultivar can replace Cavendish, so various hybridisation and genetic engineering programs are attempting to create a disease-resistant, mass-market banana.
Export bananas are picked green, and ripen in special rooms upon arrival in the destination country. These rooms are air-tight and filled with ethylene gas to induce ripening. The vivid yellow color normally associated with supermarket bananas is in fact a side-effect of the artificial ripening process. Flavor and texture are also affected by ripening temperature. Bananas are refrigerated to between 13.5 and 15 °C (56 and 59 °F) during transport. At lower temperatures, ripening permanently stalls, and turns the bananas gray as cell walls break down. The skin of ripe bananas quickly blackens in the 4 °C (39 °F) environment of a domestic refrigerator, although the fruit inside remains unaffected.
"Tree-ripened" Cavendish bananas have a greenish-yellow appearance which changes to a brownish-yellow as they ripen further. Although both flavor and texture of tree-ripened bananas is generally regarded as superior to any type of green-picked fruit, this reduces shelf life to only 7–10 days, making commercial distribution impractical. For most people the only practical means of obtaining such fruit is to grow it themselves, however this is also problematic, because the bunch tend to ripen together and spoil quickly.
Bananas can be ordered by the retailer "ungassed", and may show up at the supermarket fully green. While such bananas ripen more slowly, the flavor is notably richer, and the banana peel can be allowed to reach a yellow/brown speckled phase, continuing to protect firm flesh within, and extending shelf life.
Bananas must be transported over long distances from the tropics to world markets. To obtain maximum shelf life, harvest comes before the fruit is mature. The fruit requires carefully handling, rapid transport to ports, cooling, and refrigerated shipping. The goal is to prevent the bananas from producing their natural ripening agent, ethylene. This technology allows storage and transport for 3–4 weeks at 13 °C (55 °F). On arrival, bananas are held at about 17 °C (63 °F) and treated with a low concentration of ethylene. After a few days, the fruit begins to ripen and is distributed for final sale. Unripe bananas can not be held in home refrigerators because they suffer from the cold. Ripe bananas can be held for a few days at home. They can be stored indefinitely frozen, then eaten like an ice pop or cooked as a banana mush.
Recent studies have suggested that carbon dioxide (which bananas produce) and ethylene absorbents extend fruit life even at high temperatures. This effect can be exploited by packing the fruit in a polyethylene bag and including an ethylene absorbent, e.g., potassium permanganate, on an inert carrier. The bag is then sealed with a band or string. This treatment has been shown to more than double lifespans up to 3–4 weeks without the need for refrigeration.
|Top banana producing nations - 2007
(in million metric tons)
|Papua New Guinea||0.87|
|Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations|
Bananas and plantains constitute a major staple food crop for millions of people in developing countries. In most tropical countries, green (unripe) bananas used for cooking represent the main cultivars. Bananas are cooked in ways that are similar to potatos. Both can be fried, boiled, baked, or chipped and have similar taste and texture when served. One banana provides about the same calories as one potato.
In 2003, India led the world in banana production, representing approximately 23% of the worldwide crop, mostly for domestic consumption. The four leading exporting countries were Ecuador, Costa Rica, the Philippines, and Colombia, which together accounted for about two-thirds of exports, each contributing more than 1 million tons. Ecuador alone provided more than 30% of global banana exports, according to Food and Agriculture Organization statistics.
Most producers are small-scale farmers either for home consumption or local markets. Because bananas and plantains produce fruit year-round, they provide an extremely valuable food source during the hunger season (when the food from one annual/semi-annual harvest has been consumed, and the next is still to come). Bananas and plantains are therefore critical to global food security.
Bananas are among the most widely-consumed foods in the world. Most banana farmers receive a low price for their produce as grocery companies pay discounted prices for buying in enormous quantity. Price competition among grocers has reduced their margins, leading to lower prices for growers. Chiquita, Del Monte, Dole, and Fyffes grow their own bananas in Ecuador, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Honduras. Banana plantations are capital intensive and demand significant expertise. The majority of independent growers are large and wealthy landowners in these countries. Producers have attempted to raise prices via marketing them as "fair trade" or Rainforest Alliance-certified in some countries.
The banana has an extensive trade history beginning with the founding of the United Fruit Company (now Chiquita) at the end of the nineteenth century. For much of the 20th century, bananas and coffee dominated the export economies of Central America. In the 1930s, bananas and coffee made up as much as 75% of the region's exports. As late as 1960, the two crops accounted for 67% of the exports from the region. Though the two were grown in similar regions, they tended not to be distributed together. The United Fruit Company based its business almost entirely on the banana trade, because the coffee trade proved too difficult to control. The term "banana republic" has been applied to most countries in Central America, but from a strict economic perspective only Costa Rica, Honduras, and Panama had economies dominated by the banana trade.
The European Union has traditionally imported many of their bananas from former European Caribbean colonies, paying guaranteed prices above global market rates. As of 2005, these arrangements were in the process of being withdrawn under pressure from other major trading powers, principally the United States. The withdrawal of these indirect subsidies to Caribbean producers is expected to favour the banana producers of Central America, in which American companies have an economic interest.
While in no danger of outright extinction, the most common edible banana cultivar Cavendish (extremely popular in Europe and the Americas) could become unviable for large-scale cultivation in the next 10–20 years. Its predecessor 'Gros Michel', discovered in the 1820s, suffered this fate. Like almost all bananas, Cavendish lacks genetic diversity, which makes it vulnerable to diseases, threatening both commercial cultivation and small-scale subsistence farming. Some commentators remarked that those variants which could replace what much of the world considers a "typical banana" are so different that most people would not consider them the same fruit, and blame the decline of the banana on monogenetic cultivation driven by short-term commercial motives.
(Race 1): fusarium wilt (a soil fungus). The Panama Disease fungus enters the plants through the roots and travels with water into the trunk and leaves, producing gels and gums that cut off the flow of water and nutrients, causing the plant to wilt. Prior to 1960 almost all commercial banana production centered on 'Gros Michel', which was highly susceptible, and exposed the rest of the plant to lethal amounts of sunlight. Cavendish was chosen as the replacement for Gros Michel because among resistant cultivars, it produces the highest quality fruit. However, more care is required for shipping the Cavendish, and its quality compared to Gros Michel is debated.
According to current sources, a deadly form of Panama disease is infecting Cavendish. All plants are genetically identical, which prevents evolution of disease resistance. Researchers are examining hundreds of wild varieties for resistance.
TR4 is a reinvigorated strain of Panama disease first discovered in 1993. This virulent form of fusarium wilt has wiped out Cavendish in several southeast Asian countries. It has yet to reach the Americas; however, soil fungi can easily be carried on boots, clothing, or tools. This is how Tropical Race 4 travels and is its most likely route into Latin America. Cavendish is highly susceptible to TR4, and over time, Cavendish is almost certain to disappear from commercial production by this disease. Unfortunately, the only known defense to TR4 is genetic resistance.
Black Sigatoka is a fungal leaf spot disease first observed in Fiji in 1963 or 1964. Black Sigatoka (also known as Black Leaf Streak) has spread to banana plantations throughout the tropics from infected banana leaves that were used as packing material. It affects all main cultivars of bananas and plantains, impeding photosynthesis by blackening parts of the leaves, eventually killing the entire leaf. Starved for energy, fruit production falls by 50% or more, and the bananas that do grow ripen prematurely, making them unsuitable for export. The fungus has shown ever-increasing resistance to treatment, with the current expense for treating 1 hectare (2.5 acres) exceeding $1,000 per year. In addition to the expense there is the question of how long intensive spraying can be environmentally justified. Several resistant cultivars of banana have been developed, but none has yet received commercial acceptance due to taste and texture issues.
However, with the arrival of Black sigatoka, banana production in eastern Africa fell by over 40%. For example, during the 1970s, Uganda produced 15 to 20 tonnes (15 to 20 LT; 17 to 22 ST) of bananas per hectare. Today, production has fallen to only 6 tonnes (5.9 LT; 6.6 ST)per hectare.
The situation has started to improve as new disease-resistant cultivars have been developed by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and NARO such as FHIA-17 (known in Uganda as the Kabana 3). These new cultivars taste different from the Cabana banana, which has slowed their acceptance by local farmers. However, by adding mulch and manure to the soil around the base of the plant, these new cultivars have substantially increased yields in the areas where they have been tried.
The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and NARO, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and CGIAR have started trials for genetically modified bananas that are resistant to both Black sigatoka and banana weevils. It is developing cultivars specifically for smallholder and subsistence farmers.
This virus jumps from plant to plant using aphids. It stunts leaves, resulting in a "bunched" appearance. Generally, an infected plant does not produce fruit, although mild strains exist which allow some production. These mild strains are often mistaken for malnourishment, or a disease other than BBTV. There is no cure, however its effect can be minimized by planting only tissue-cultured plants (in-vitro propagation), controlling aphids, and immediately removing and destroying infected plants.
Banana Bunches --- yellow
Banana Bunches --- Green --- Un-ripened
Red Banana --- Ready for Sale in the Market of Kanyakumari, South India
Banana Leaf is used for serving Traditional food in South India
Bananas are often sold in bunches, as shown above.
Banana chips, product of Bandar Lampung, Indonesia
There is more than one place called Banana:
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|Developer(s)||Victor Interactive Software|
Banana is a puzzle game developed and published by Victor Interactive for the Famicom in 1986. The game bears a striking resemblance to an older popular 8-bit home computer game Boulder Dash. The key difference between Banana and Boulder Dash is that the player is not immune to the effects of gravity. There are boulders present in Banana, but they do not pose a threat to the player if they fall on him, they are merely obstacles. Since gravity is always in effect, ladders are the only method that the player has to climb to a higher position.
In Banana, you control a mole which digs through dirt collecting various fruits and vegetables. In most levels, the produce must be collected in a specific order, or the player may become stuck and be forced to restart the level. During the levels, the player must also retrieve a female mole. When all objectives are complete, the player must make his way to the exit. Among the fruits the player must collect are bananas. These are special fruits which give the player one of four items: a bomb, a ladder segment, a rope, or a rock. The player may use these if he takes a misstep in a level and gets stuck. If either mole walks under a rock, that rock shakes. When the moles move out from under the rock, the rock and any rocks on top of it fall. The player cannot die from a falling rock, but he may become stuck if it blocks his exit. At the end of each level, the number of steps the player took is totaled. This step count negatively affects the total score. There are 105 levels.
Banana/Table of Contents
|File:Luxor, Banana Island, Banana Tree, Egypt, Oct|
Banana' is the common name for a type of herb and also the name for the herbaceous plants that grow this herb. These plants belong to the genus Musa. They are native to the tropical region of Southeast Asia. There are about 100 different species of bananas.
Most banana plants are grown for their herbs, but some are grown as ornamental plants, or to provide fibre. In parts of Africa, beer has been made by fermenting the juice of certain cultivars, known as beer bananas. The ash of banana can be used to make soap. In Asia, bananas are often planted to provide shade to plants that love it, for example coffee, cocoa, nutmeg or black pepper. That way, banana plants can often be found in plantations of other crops.
The bananas from a group of cultivars with firmer, starchier fruit are called plantains. Plantains are mostly used for cooking or fibre. The bananas that are used for desserts are called dessert bananas.
The banana plant is the largest herbaceous flowering plant. Banana plants are often mistaken to be trees. Bananas have a false stem (called pseudostem), which is made by the lower part of the leaves. This pseudostem can grow to be two to eight metres tall. Each pseudostem grows from a corm. A pseudostem is able to produce a single bunch of bananas. After fruiting, the pseudostem dies and is replaced. When most bananas are ripe, they turn yellow or, sometimes, red.
The banana fruit grow in hanging clusters. There are up to 20 fruit to a . (called a hand). The total of the hanging clusters is known as a bunch, or commercially as a "banana stem". There are between three and twenty tiers to a bunch. A bunch usually weighs between thirty and fifty kilograms.
A single fruit is about 125 grams on average; about three quarters of this is water.
Each banana (or finger) has a protective outer layer (called peel or skin). There is a fleshy part inside. Both the skin and inner part can be eaten. Western cultures generally eat the inside raw and throw away the skin while some Asian cultures generally eat both the skin and inside cooked. Each fruit has many strings that run between the skin and the inner part.
Bananas are grown in at least 107 countries. In popular culture and commerce, "banana" usually refers to soft, sweet "dessert" bananas. The bananas from a group of cultivars with firmer, starchier fruit are called plantains. Bananas may also be cut and dried and eaten as a type of chip. Dried bananas are also ground into banana flour.
The banana species growing in the wild have fruits with many hard, large seeds. Almost all bananas grown to be eaten have seedless fruits. Bananas are classified either as dessert bananas or as green cooking bananas. Almost all export bananas are of the dessert types. Only about ten to fifteen percent of all production is for export. Dessert bananas change their color and usually turn yellow, when they are ripe; plantains and bananas generally used for cooking stay green. Certain bananas have other colors when ripe.
The countries that produce the most bananas include India, Brazil, China, Ecuador and the Philippines. The top five countries that exported bananas were Ecuador, Costa Rica, the Philippines, Colombia and Guatemala. The United States, the European Union and Japan are the biggest buyers of banana. Bananas are among the most valuable agricultural export products: They provided about sixty percent of export earnings of Saint Lucia and about twelve percent of the Gross Domestic Product of the country, between 1994 and 1996.
Some people are allergic to bananas. There are two basic forms of these allergies. The first is known as oral allergy syndrome. Within an hour of eating a banana, swelling starts inside the mouth or throat. This allergy is related to allergies caused by pollen, like that of the birch tree. The other is similar to latex allergies. It causes urticaria and potentially serious upper gastrointestinal symptoms.
The fibre gained from the banana plant has been used to make textiles for a long time. In Japan, bananas have been grown to be used for clothing and in the house since at least the 13th century. With the Japanese system, the leaves and shoots are cut from the plant periodically to make sure they are soft. The harvested shoots must first be boiled in lye to prepare the fibres for the making of the yarn. These banana shoots produce fibres of varying degrees of softness. They can be used for yarns and textiles of different qualties, and for specific uses. For example, the outermost fibres of the shoots are the coarsest - they are good for tablecloths. The softest innermost fibres are desirable for kimono and kamishimo. This traditional Japanese banana cloth making process has many steps, all performed by hand.
Another system is used in Nepal. There the trunk of the banana plant is harvested instead. Small pieces of this trunk are then softened. The fibres are extracted mechanically, they are bleached, and dried. They are then sent to the Kathmandu Valley, were high-end rugs are produced. These rugs have a texture and general qualities similar to that of silk. These banana fibre rugs are woven by the traditional Nepalese hand-knotted methods.
Banana fibre is also used to make banana paper. There are two different kinds of banana paper: That made from the bark, which is mainly used for art. Paper can also be made from the fibre and from unused fruits. This is an industrial process.
Bananas on a plantation in Morocco
Inside a wild-type
Fruits of wild-type bananas have many large, hard seeds.
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